Grilled Whole Snapper

Cover the grill while you're cooking the fish to keep the flesh moist and to prevent flare-ups that would burn the breadcrumbs. We like to use a grill basket, which helps prevent sticking, but you can cook the fish directly on the grill. Just be sure it's impeccably clean, and turn the fish carefully so you don't lose the crust.

Grilled Whole Snapper

Cara Cormack

Total Time:
30 mins
4 servings


  • 2 (1 1/4- to 1 1/2-pound) whole red snappers, cleaned and scaled

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

  • 2 large sprigs rosemary plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary, crumbled and divided

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 tablespoon dry breadcrumbs

  • Lemon wedges, for serving


  1. Grilled Whole Snapper

    Cara Cormack


  2. Grilled Whole Snapper

    Cara Cormack

    Light the grill. Rinse the fish; dry the surfaces and cavities thoroughly. Cut shallow incisions in a crisscross pattern, about 1 inch apart, in each side of both fish.

  3. Grilled Whole Snapper

    Cara Cormack

    Season each fish cavity with 1/8 teaspoon of the salt. Put a rosemary sprig in each cavity or rub each with 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary.

  4. Grilled Whole Snapper

    Cara Cormack

    Rub the surface of both fish using 2 tablespoons of the oil, the garlic, the chopped fresh or remaining 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt.

  5. Grilled Whole Snapper

    Cara Cormack

    Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on both sides of each fish. Drizzle both sides with the remaining tablespoon oil.

  6. Grilled Whole Snapper

    Cara Cormack

    Put the fish in a grill basket or onto a very clean grill rack. Cook over moderately high heat for 7 minutes. Turn and grill until golden and just done, about 7 minutes longer. Remove the fish carefully so it doesn't stick.

  7. Grilled Whole Snapper

    Cara Cormack

    Serve the fish on a platter. Run a knife between the flesh and the bones and lift off the fillet. Turn the fish over and repeat. Repeat with the other fish. Pass lemon wedges.


Roasted whole snapper: Purchase one 3 1/2-pound snapper instead of two smaller ones. Prepare the fish in the same manner through Step 1, using 1/4 teaspoon salt and both sprigs or one teaspoon rosemary in the cavity. Heat the oven to 450°F instead of lighting the grill. Put the fish on a rack in a roasting pan; cook until just done, about 20 minutes. No need to turn the fish while cooking.

Suggested Pairing

Snapper is a delicate fish, and though grilling adds some stronger flavors, you'll be best off with a fairly neutral but crisp white. Orvieto Classico strikes the perfect balance.

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